If you travel with children, you've probably dreamed of being able to bring along a nanny, if only to keep those kids occupied while you relax in the air. Now, Etihad Airways has got you covered, with the next best thing to buying a ticket for your own personal Mary Poppins.
Traveling with kids is a whole different trip. There’s extra baggage, a plethora of snacks, diapers, bottles, toys… and the list goes on and on. And then there’s the added stress, not only of getting everyone and everything gathered and onto the plane, but of keeping the children entertained during the flight, which can be a horrific experience if the kids are scared, tired or over-excited by the experience. To put it briefly: Parents need a break. Some airlines are more helpful than others in that respect.
Take Etihad Airways. There’s good news for families who fly Etihad: The airline has launched a dedicated in-flight child-care assistance program, led by the introduction of Flying Nannies onboard long-haul flights. Sporting bright orange aprons—rather than Ms. Poppins’ Victorian garb and brolly—each Flying Nanny provides a helping hand to families and unaccompanied minors.
“Flying with a young family can be a daunting task, even for the most experienced travelers,” said Aubrey Tiedt, Etihad Airways’ vice president of guest services. “The Flying Nanny role demonstrates our understanding of our guests’ needs and our commitment to making the journey as relaxing and comfortable as possible. This includes helping serve children’s meals early in the flight and offering activities and challenges to help entertain and occupy younger guests.”
All Flying Nannies are crew members who have completed an enhanced training course from world-renowned Norland College, which has been at the forefront of childcare training for over 120 years, instructing top-notch professional nannies and nurses who are employed worldwide. The in-depth course concentrates on child psychology and sociology and will train each Flying Nanny to identify various types of behavior, developmental stages, how to appreciate the perspective of traveling families and creative ways to entertain and engage with children during flights.
Claire Burgess, an early years consultant at Norland, said that the college is “delighted to be a key partner in developing and delivering the Flying Nanny program with Etihad Airways, as both organizations share a mutual respect for children and families.”
At present, there are 300 trained Flying Nannies in service; by the end of this year, there will be 500 serving as helping hands for parents on Etihad Airways flights.
Like a spoonful of sugar to help the medicine go down, Flying Nannies keep young minds engaged with special activities. Supplies for simple arts and crafts—such as origami, sock puppets, paper sculptures and greeting cards—are provided for busy hands and creative minds. The children also meet a few new friends: charming collectable animal characters—Zoe the bee, Jamool the camel, Kundai the lion and Boo the panda—who will accompany the kids on their trip. For older children, quizzes and games are provided, along with offers of tours of the galley during quieter moments of the flight. Plus, Flying Nannies sometimes show off a few special magic tricks, certain to enchant youngsters of all ages.
Upon landing, Flying Nannies help parents prepare for disembarkation by offering beverages and snacks, gathering baggage and advising parents about the various children-oriented facilities available at the airport, in addition to steering them correctly toward a taxi stand, rental car desk or connecting flight.
For parents traveling with children, having a helping hand in the person of an Etihad Flying Nanny onboard can only mean more rest and relaxation for parents in dire need of a break—which sounds rather… well, in a word, supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.
Written by: Adam Rodriguez
Premier Traveler Magazine